MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA
(Minutes of Evidence)
Déardaoin, 1 Nollaig, 1960.
Thursday, 1st December, 1960.
The Committee sat at 11 a.m.
DEPUTY COSGRAVE in the chair
Liam O Cadhla (An tArd-Reachtaire Cuntas agus Ciste), Mr. C. J. Byrnes, Mr. P. S. MacGuill and Mr. J. F. MacInerney (An Roinn Airgeadais) called and examined.
VOTE 44—NATIONAL GALLERY.
Mr. T. McGreevy called and examined.
139. Deputy Jones.—On subhead B.— Purchase and Repair of Pictures (Grant in-Aid)—I wonder could Mr. McGreevy tell us how many new works were purchased?—We made some very important purchases with moneys from outside the Grant-in-Aid. Within the Grant-in-Aid, we bought what I think is a beautiful picture, “The Infante Philip Prosper.” It is a picture of a baby of a year and a half old in a cradle. It used to be the Marquis of Lansdowne’s Velazquez. Then it was demoted to Velazquez’s successor Carreno de Miranda who became first painter to the King on Velazquez’s death. I would venture to say that Velazquez began the picture and his successor finished it—because it is a picture of great quality but it is not finished as well as it was begun. That was one purchase. We also bought “The Holy Women at the Tomb” by G. Van den Eeckhout, a work of great character; and we bought a very fine picture by John Butler Yeats, “The Elder Miss Dowden at the age of 12 or 13,” a beautiful picture of great quality; and a painting by Bridgford of Thomas Ettingsol, an old-time writer who is almost forgotten. We also bought some drawings: “Oliver Shepperd” by William Orpen and Patrick Tuohy’s prize-winning drawing “Supper Time. Tuohy was considered one of the finest young Irish artists. He died at the age of 36. Those were all purchased under the Grant-in-Aid and we received some gifts as well.
140. Chairman.—Were there gifts from private sources?—We got a drawing by Max Beerbohm of W. B. Yeats from the Friends of the National Collection. We got two portraits, of Sir Walter and Lady Armstrong, by Walter Osborne, from Mrs. E. M. Dea, their daughter. Mr. R. A. R. Field, managing director of the Piccadilly Hotel, London, and his wife, gave us “The Death of Adonis” by James Barry —a very good Irish classical picture. When I was given first choice, in the bequest of Dr. R. I. Best, I chose 12 or 15 pictures, including four by Jack Yeats and other valuable works by Irish artists. It was a good year from the point of view of acquisition.
Chairman.—Thank you, Mr. McGreevy.
The witness withdrew.
VOTE 36—OFFICE OF THE MINISTER FOR EDUCATION.
Mr. T. Ó Raifeartaigh called and examined.
141. Deputy Sheldon.—On subhead A.2—Travelling Expenses—there is a minor question, one which never struck me before. How does it arise that the administrative staff have travelling to do? —The travelling by the administrative staff is nearly always in connection with international conferences.
142. Chairman.—What was the purpose of the Board of Visitors to the Universities?—There were two Boards of Visitors, one to the National University of Ireland and the other to University College, Dublin. The Board of Visitors to the National University of Ireland was in connection with the point as to whether it was in keeping with the Charter to appoint, as members of a particular Faculty, professors of other Faculties. For example, in connection with the Law Faculty, if the subject of French had to be taken or was optional, then the professor of French would become automatically, as far as I remember, a member of that Faculty. The point was that it could be possible that the members of the particular Faculty who were concerned with the original subjects of that Faculty would be outnumbered in the Faculty by professors who were not concerned with these subjects. The Board of Visitors to University College, Dublin, was in connection with certain classes of appointment, that is to say, whether it was within the terms of the Charter to appoint College Lecturers.
That was the matter that there was legislation about?—There was, yes, afterwards.
In these cases are the Board of Visitors always Judges?—They are in fact always Judges. I do not think they have to be Judges but they are by custom. It has to consist of at least three persons.
143. Deputy Jones.—With regard to subhead B.1—Salaries, etc.—could Mr. Ó Raifeartaigh tell us would there be many shortages now in the inspection staff?— Yes. There are. In the year concerned there were three posts of District Inspector of Primary Schools vacant for the entire period and three posts vacant for part of the period. There were four posts as Organisers vacant for the entire year and two such posts for part of the period. There were seven posts of Secondary Schools Inspector and two posts as Technical Branch Inspector vacant for the year concerned.
Deputy Carty.—Have steps been taken to fill these vacancies?—Yes. A competition was held by the Civil Service Commission but we did not manage to fill the vacancies yet. Negotiations are proceeding at the moment in the hope of filling them.
144. Chairman.—In regard to subhead D.—Expenses in connection with the Council of Education—what is the Council working on at the present period, can you say?—The Council has been working for the last few years on the curriculum of the Secondary Schools. I understand they have just completed their study of that and have their report ready.
VOTE 37—PRIMARY EDUCATION.
Mr. T. Ó Raifeartaigh further examined.
145. Chairman.—Paragraph 30 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General is as follows:
“Subhead A.3.—Preparatory Colleges, etc., including Contributions to Pension Fund.
30. I have been furnished with a statement of the receipts and expenditure in respect of the preparatory colleges for the school year ended 31 July, 1959. The average cost per student for maintenance and tuition for that year, was £201 and the average fee paid by the students was £31.”
Could you say what was the full fee payable by the students in the Preparatory Colleges?—The full fee is £60.
Then the State bears the balance, does it?—Yes.
Deputy Jones.—The scheme in regard to Preparatory Colleges, except for students who are completing a course, is more or less laid aside?—That is so.
146. Chairman.—Paragraph 31 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General is as follows:
“31. Accounts in respect of the farms and gardens attached to the colleges have also been submitted. Three of the accounts show profits of £95, £59, and £21 and three show losses of £67, £57 and £42. The farms are inspected by technical officers of the Department of Agriculture and their reports are available to me.”
Deputy Jones.—Three of the farms made a profit and three showed a loss. Is the produce of these farms charged in at ordinary market prices?—Yes; it is charged at ordinary market prices to the College.
147. Chairman.—Paragraph 32 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General is as follows:
“Subhead D.D.—Ex-Gratia Payments to certain Retired Teachers (Grant-in-Aid)
32. Pending the promulgation of a scheme to be made under the provisions of the Teachers’ Superannuation Act, 1928, for ex-gratia payments to certain retired national school teachers the sum of £360,000 provided by supplementary estimate was transferred to a suspense account. No payments had been made out of the suspense account by the end of the year.”
It is mentioned that a scheme is to be promulgated. Has it been formulated yet? I refer to a scheme for retired national school teachers under the Teachers’ Superannuation Act?—That is in course of preparation at the moment.
Deputy Carty.—Have any payments actually been made?
Chairman.—Paragraph 32 mentions that a sum of £360,000 was transferred to a suspense account and Deputy Carty was anxious to know had any payments been made out of it?—All the payments, I think, have since been made. In the current financial year payments amounting to £323,534 have been issued to 1,410 living pre-1950 pensioners and to 218 surviving widows of deceased pensioners.
Deputy Sheldon.—For clarity, do I take it that Mr. Ó Raifeartaigh was not referring to this when he mentioned that the scheme was in course of preparation? You could hardly pay out if the scheme was only in course of preparation?—I did not mean this scheme.
It is just for clarity. It will appear on the record?—That is actually paid. It was put into a suspense account. We could not manage it before the end of the last financial year but since then we have made a big effort to expedite it and we have actually paid it out.
148. On subhead A.1—Training Colleges—why was this special grant of £11,000 not included in the Supplementary Estimate?—It was for a purpose of exactly the same nature as the normal payment made to the Training College, that is, for additional staff mainly and in connection with an overdraft incurred by the College in connection with its normal work.
The reason I mention it is that, of course, the Estimate does refer to a scheme approved by the Minister for Finance, but the paragraph in Part III of the Estimate would have led one to believe that the Estimate was on the basis of the number of students?—By and large it is, but it was decided that additional staff was needed that had not been there before at all without reference to the number of students. For example, we put in a superintendent of the practising schools, that is for the teacher trainees method classes. That was going on all the time but an additional superintendent was needed. There had not been before a Professor of Catechetics and this professor was appointed. There had been no such post before. A special professor of Geography was appointed. Geography had been taught before to the students but we felt that it was an important enough subject to appoint a special Professor.
It just struck me. I could not see the distinction between this extra expenditure and the extra expenditure in subhead C.1 where a Supplementary Estimate was brought in. Surely the expenditure under subhead C.1 was not novel either?— Except that subhead C.1 was a very large sum.
Deputy Sheldon.—Relatively, it is big. £11,000 is much higher in relation to £99,000 than £95,000 is in relation to £8½ million. I see the point, however. Thank you.
149. Deputy Carty.—I notice that fees realised from students in Training Colleges were greater than estimated?—Yes.
Was there a stepping up in the standard in the means test for trainee teachers and students in Preparatory Colleges if more money was received from them than was anticipated?
Chairman.—I do not want to interrupt the Deputy but I think he has jumped the subheads.
150. Deputy Sheldon.—On subhead A.3 it seems odd that the only explanation of this excess of £1,492 is a note explaining £20. Perhaps Mr. Ó Raifeartaigh would elaborate?—The excess was caused mainly by the introduction as from 1st December, 1958 of increased salary rates for the staffs for which it was not possible to make provision in the Estimate. The Preparatory College staff salaries follow increases in the payment of incremental salaries to Secondary School teachers.
151. Chairman.—On subhead C.3.— Transport Services—what areas are included?—The whole country. Of course there is a special scheme in Dublin on account of the transfer of population.
152. Deputy Carty.—On subhead C.6. —Grants towards the Cost of Heating, etc., of Schools and Cleansing of Out-Offices—how did the actual expenditure come to be £9,000 less than was granted? —In the year 1959-60 there was a change in the basis of payment. The managers may be recouped one-half of the certified amount in cash or kind towards this purpose, towards the cost of providing fuel and towards the cost of labour in cleaning the schools and out-offices, subject to certain maximum amounts. That system was introduced in 1959-60 in lieu of grants based on average attendances and we increased the provision from £100,000 in 1958-59 to £131,000. It was simply an overestimation. In the current year we have reduced from £131,000 to £124,000 as an estimate of what the actual cost is expected to be in the current year.
153. On subhead E.—Appropriations in Aid—have you tried to obtain more by way of fees from students or from the parents of students in training or preparatory colleges?—No. We have not tried to step up the means test or anything of that kind. There were not so many necessitous cases this year.
154. Chairman.—There was a substantial increase in receipts from the farms. To what do you attribute that increase? —In relation to the preparatory colleges?
Yes, on item No. 6?—Again we have a revised method of assessing the average cost per student really arising from an examination of questions that arose at this Committee some years ago. It takes into account the expenditure by the Office of Public Works on the maintenance and so on of college buildings and also the profit or loss shown on the college farm. However, that is not the point you are making. It is really very hard to know what is going to happen in any year in regard to the farms. Sometimes we are surprised there is any profit at all. It is rather poor land.
Has the quantity of goods or the number of livestock increased? I notice the figure is up from £1,700 to £2,766?—It is very hard to forecast these receipts accurately. The farm at Coláiste Bríde, Falcarragh, Donegal, was developed and the agricultural rehabilitation scheme applied to it in accordance with advice given by the Department of Agriculture. It seems to have been more successful as a result of that improvement.
155. Deputy Sheldon.—On Item No. 9.—Receipts from Church Temporalities Fund—does a fixed sum come from the fund or is a fixed amount of capital appropriated to the Department?—I have a note on it here. The sum payable to the national teachers’ superannuation fund under section 3 of the National Teachers’ Superannuation Act, 1879, out of the property accruing to Church Temporalities under the Irish Charter of 1869 was £39,000 per annum, which was the interest at three per cent. on a sum of £1,300,000 held by the Church Commissioners. Following the change of Government this sum of £1,300,000 was allocated between the Northern Ireland Government and our Government at £413,400 to them and £886,600 to us. Then, when the national teachers’ pension fund was wound up in 1934, the sum concerned was paid into—I quote—“or disposed of for the benefit of the Exchequer in such manner as the Minister for Finance may appoint.” Department of Finance circulars of 24th January and 12th February, 1935, decided to credit that amount as an Appropriation in Aid.
Therefore this is under regulation. The Department has no control at all over the capital?—No.
156. In regard to all these funds, a point I want to make arises on Vote 37 and also on Vote 38. There is only one minor fund in this vote, the major ones are on Secondary Education. It appears to me, in relation to the 3¼ per cent. National Security Loan, that it would be worth while selling and reinvesting this at the moment. Is it the Department of Finance which keeps this under review?— Yes. The order says: “In such manner as the Minister for Finance may appoint.”
How often does the Minister for Finance review investments?—I am not in a position to say at the moment.
Chairman.—Perhaps you will send us a note on that question?—Yes.*
Deputy Sheldon.—It affects the Erasmus Smith Endowment in the next Vote very much because if the £14,600 investment were sold and reinvested it would increase the income from £475 to roughly £840.
VOTE 38—SECONDARY EDUCATION.
Mr. T. Ó Raifeartaigh further examined.
157. Chairman.—Paragraph 33 of the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:—
“Subhead E.—Publication of Irish Text Books.
33. Reference was made in previous reports to agreements for the issue of repayable grants to a publishing firm to enable it to publish secondary school text books in Irish. Including grants of £884 paid during the year the total issues amounted to £9,147 at 31 March 1960 in respect of fifteen approved books. Under the agreements the publishers are required to pay to the Department grants made available by Bord na Leabhar Gaeilge towards the cost of the production of these books, and to refund the balance of the repayable grants remaining due by half-yearly payments equal to 20 per cent. of the amount realised on the sale of the books. Repayments to 31 March 1960, including £1,200 in the year under review, amounted to £5,031, comprising £3,600 from grants by Bord na Leabhar Gaeilge and £1,431 from sales.”
On this paragraph—does the Department examine the sales figures?—We do. Our interest in them is to recover 20 per cent. of the amount realised.
158. On subhead E.—Publication of Irish Text Books—what is the explanation of the big saving? The grant is £5,000?—The progress during the year with the printing of secondary schools texts was slower than anticipated. We expected to have a number of books before the end of the year.
Is the supply adequate to meet the demand?—I am afraid not. In that year we hoped to have produced five text books —they were rather heavy kind of works, university type text books—and we managed, before 31st March, to get on the market only one of those five. However, we got one out since and we have one just ready, so that would be three out of the five will be on the market for the current academic year.
They are published by the Department?—Yes. Perhaps I should say in connection with the sum of money for investment about which Deputy Sheldon was speaking a moment ago, that, while it is in the hands of the Department of Finance, they consult us every time a new loan is on the market.
159.—Deputy Carty.—On subhead F.— Courses for Secondary Teachers—what are these courses?—They were both refresher courses in Irish for secondary teachers.
The explanation says: “The estimate was prepared on the basis that travelling and subsistence allowances would be payable.” This was not so?—Sanction was not forthcoming.
The Department of Finance, I take it? —Yes.
160. Deputy Sheldon.—Under “Securities” in the Charleville Endowment— what is the guaranteed 2¾ per cent. stock? Is it Irish stock?—I cannot tell you at the moment what that stock is.
I could not find it in the Stock Exchange List and I wondered what stock it was?—I am sure it is an Irish investment. I just cannot say. I shall let you know what it is.*
161. Deputy Carty.—Are there any contenders for the Ciste Shéamais A. Mhic Shuibhne?—It is not a matter of applying. It is awarded to the candidate, usually a boy—always a boy in fact—who obtains the highest marks in Greek, through the medium of Irish, at the Leaving Certificate examination. Anyone who has competed in Greek in the Leaving Certificate is eligible.
Chairman.—Apparently the medal is not a very expensive one?—I suppose the honour and glory count. First place is first place.
VOTE 39—TECHNICAL INSTRUCTION.
Mr. T. Ó Raifeartaigh further examined.
162. Chairman.—How are the scholarships provided for under subhead A. awarded?—They are awarded in two forms. First, we have the Fíor-Ghaeltacht Scholarship for girls from the Fíor-Ghaeltacht who are applicants for training as domestic science teachers. The second group are in the form of annual allowances to students whose parents are unable to meet the expenses of the course without assistance.
163. Deputy Jones.—On subhead C.— Training of Teachers—the Note says: “Certain proposals in regard to the payment of capitation grants to a training school of domestic science, for which provision was made in the estimate, were not proceeded with.” I wonder if Mr. Ó Raifeartaigh could tell us if there is sufficient accommodation in the schools at the present time for pupils, having regard to the demand which exists for teachers of domestic science?—Yes. The particular College normally takes in 24 pupils per annum and that would give 72 at any given time. It sometimes squeezes in perhaps two or three more if there is a prospect of a greater demand. The point in this case was that it was going to squeeze in a good many more—six or seven, I think—but the proposal was not proceeded with in that year.
Deputy Carty.—Is Mr. Ó Raifeartaigh satisfied that the supply is able to meet the demand?—The supply is just about sufficient for the demand. It would be more than sufficient except for the marriage “mortality” which cannot be prognosticated, especially in the case of these particular girls. There was a proposal to train more students in connection with secondary schools and whether we will train them or not I do not know. It was decided not to take more than the normal quota for that year.
164. Deputy Moloney.—With regard to subhead D.1.—Grants under Section 109 of the Vocational Education Act, 1930— an explanation is given but I am not quite clear on it. The Note says: “The number of attendance hours in respect of which grants were payable to residential schools of domestic training was greater than was anticipated.” I wonder would Mr. Ó Raifeartaigh elaborate on that?—Those grants are paid to three types of school. The first type is the residential schools of domestic economy of which there are, I think, 13. Those grants are payable by the hour. The second type is the miscellaneous schools. Those are day schools, mostly anyway, where special courses are given in a kind of preparatory domestic science. The third college is the Irish Nautical College for which we provide £1,700 a year. The numbers attending were greater than anticipated. We could not foresee that. We had a great demand from young people either to reside in the residential schools of domestic economy or to attend at the second group, the day schools.
VOTE 40—SCIENCE AND ART.
Mr. T. Ó Raifeartaigh further examined.
165. Chairman.—On subhead A.—Survey and Reproduction of films of Irish Historical Interest—is that survey done through the universities or directly by the Department?—It is done by the Department and the agent is the National Library.
166. Deputy Jones.—On subhead B.3. —University Scholarships—the Note says: “Saving due mainly to the fact that scholarships were not renewed in a number of cases.” I assume the number would be approximately ten?—The Estimate provided for the awarding of 20 new open scholarships. Two open scholarships awarded in previous years had been postponed so the total was 22 in that particular year.
How many were not renewed?—Twenty new open scholarships were awarded. One of those was postponed for a start and of the two postponed from the previous year only one was taken up, the other being postponed until 1960. In addition, one scholarship holder relinquished his scholarship to take up employment and ten did not fulfil the conditions for renewal. That is ten, out of the total number at the university which would be over 100 in all, did not fulfil the conditions for renewal. Two completed their primary degree and could have gone on to take a higher degree but for reasons of their own, I suppose, they did not proceed to a higher degree. Presumably they found employment. I suppose actually ten would be the answer to the Deputy’s question.
167. Chairman.—On subhead B.6.— Grants to Colleges Providing Courses in Irish—what colleges provide these courses for what types of students?—Those are what we call “Summer Colleges.” They are in the Gaeltacht mostly and they are nearly all for children. Some residential courses are provided in the summer in non-Gaeltacht areas also.
Primary and secondary schools?—Yes, primary and secondary. I may add that the increased attendance at the existing schools is probably due to the introduction of an oral test in the Leaving Certificate Examination. In fact, in that year, four additional colleges were operating and were. I understand, quite full.
Deputy Moloney.—You asked the question I intended to ask and Mr. Ó Raifeartaigh presupposed another question and has already answered it.
Mr. Ó Raifeartaigh.—I could give you the number of colleges if you like. There are 27 in all.
Chairman.—All in Gaeltacht areas?— No, nearly all in Gaeltacht areas but not quite all.
168. Deputy Browne. — On subhead B.7.—Grants to Periodicals published in Irish and Newspapers publishing current News in Irish — how many newspapers qualify for that grant?—One weekly, five monthlies, one annual and a number of weekly newspapers here and there. I think that in 1959/60 only two local newspapers qualified.
169. Deputy Jones. — Would Mr. Ó Raifeartaigh be able to tell us, in regard to subhead B.8., how much the Irish Folklore Commission have got by way of Grant in-Aid up to the present and how many publications they have produced? — I could not tell you exactly at this moment but I can give you a note on it. That sum of £14,000 or so has been fairly static, I think, for the last five or six years. I could not tell you here and now the actual publications but I could let you have a note, Mr. Chairman, on that.*
170. Deputy Moloney.—With regard to subhead B.9.—Grant towards Cost of short Films in Irish—what films were these and where were they exhibited?—The films are made by the National Film Institute and they are available to schools, from the National Film Institute, at nominal prices and so they are exhibited in quite a number of schools all over the country. I cannot give you the names of the films.
Deputy Moloney.—I take it there is a fairly wide variety of these films and that they are mostly directed towards education in primary schools?—Yes, and secondary schools also.
Deputy Moloney.—That is quite a good thing.
VOTE 41—REFORMATORY AND INDUSTRIAL SCHOOLS.
Mr. T. Ó Raifeartaigh further examined.
171. Chairman.—How many Reformatory Schools are there?—There are one boys’ and two girls’.
Daingean is the boys’?—Yes.
172. Is there any source of income other than the capitation grant?—There is another, but very small, source. The income is our capitation grant and an almost equal local authority grant in the case of Reformatory Schools and, in the case of Industrial Schools, our grant with an exactly equal grant from the local authority. The other small source is the payments from parents under Court Order.
173. Deputy Moloney.—What is meant by places of detention under subhead C.? Would that be the Borstal?—No. The Borstal does not come under the Department of Education at all. It is Marlborough House, where boys can be held for a short period.
Chairman.—On remand?—On remand or pending trial.
VOTE 42—DUBLIN INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED STUDIES.
Mr. T. Ó Raifeartaigh called.
VOTE 43—UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES.
Mr. T. Ó Raifeartaigh further examined.
174. Chairman. — On subhead B.— University College, Dublin—what was the Supplementary Estimate for?—The Supplementary Estimate was a token vote of £10 for the purpose of obtaining the approval of Dáil Éireann to the transfer of University College to the Belfield site.
175. Deputy Jones.—Was there any particular reason why the amount expended under subhead C.—University College, Cork—was £4,000 less than granted?— There was a capital sum provided for clearing the jail site and up to the end of March that had cost £6,000, so we paid the cost up to that point.
176. Deputy Moloney.—In regard to subhead E.—Maynooth College (Grant-in-Aid)—do I take it that the grant of £20,000 is related to the number of students that the University normally would carry?
Chairman.—The Deputy is anxious to know is the grant related to the number of students in the University?
Deputy Moloney.—How is it fixed?
Mr. Ó Raifeartaigh—In fixing grants for Universities we take a great number of factors into account as best we can and it would not be right to say that we simply base them, as in the case of Secondary Schools, on the number of students. This is in connection with secular subjects in Maynooth College. It is for University courses. It is almost a nominal sum really.
The witness withdrew.
Mr. T. O’Brien called and examined.
177. Chairman.—On this Vote there is a paragraph in the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General, as follows:
“Subhead I. — Improvement of Estates, etc.
34. With a view to raising the standard of dwellinghouses erected by the Land Commission it was decided as an experiment to build four houses and outoffices in accordance with modern designs and to provide them with up to date amenities. The houses were erected on two estates in Laois and Westmeath and expenditure to 31 March 1960 amounted to £12,125. It is normal to charge an improvement advance of £100 on a holding the value of which is enhanced by the erection of a new house and this advance will, it is understood, be charged in these cases.”
Have these new houses been occupied yet?—Yes, they have.
Deputy Sheldon.—What was the total cost?—The total cost was £12,540, almost all incurred in that accounting year except for about £400 paid in the current year.
Deputy Jones.—Would each of these houses and outoffices cost roughly over £3,000?—Just about £3,000. The prices were £3,026, £3,124, £3,153 and £3,237.
Chairman.—Did that include outoffices? —Yes, outoffices also. The outoffices cost about £890 and the dwellings about £2,200.
Was there any different basis adopted for selecting allottees in these cases?— As these were more or less demonstration houses we selected what we regarded would be rather superior type allottees for them.
What area of land was attached to each of them?—In one case it was 40 acres, in another 45 acres, in another 38 acres and in still another 36½ acres.
178. Is it proposed to adopt this new house altogether in future?—I doubt if we will adopt it fully. We built these houses to the exact design of the architects we employed and they were built primarily as a costing experiment. In the result, we regard the cost as high, particularly for the standard allotment, and we have no intention of adopting them generally without modification.
179. What is the cost of the normal house of the old type you were building? —£1,650 for both house and outoffices. In its time, I should say, the Land Commission has built an enormous number of houses and at the present time is building upwards of 200 houses per year. We have always been working to a set of standard plans and up to about five or six years ago the houses had been rather small with a floor space of about 650 square feet with three bedrooms, kitchen and scullery. Then, about 1955, we started to change the design, adopting plans of about 850 square feet floor space with three bedrooms, kitchen, scullery and dairy room. We had some complaints about monotony of external design and we felt we ought to improve and keep in line with modern trends. It was, of course, an experiment. We approached an Office of Public Works architect, who, in consultation with an outside architect, designed two houses. We built four houses, two of each type, two in Laois and two in Westmeath. These are the houses referred to in the Comptroller and Auditor General’s note. These particular houses have many new features. They were built mainly, as I said, as a costing experiment exactly to the designs of the architects. Their floor space is something less than 1,000 square feet. There are three bedrooms, parlour, living-room, hall and kitchen. In the kitchen there is an electric cooker, sink, draining board and larder shelving. A hot press and immersion heater, as well as two clothes presses, are provided in the hallway. The bedrooms have built-in wardrobes and there is a built-in press in the parlour. There is a bathroom, with the usual fittings, viz.—bath, wash-hand basin and toilet. As well as the houses, there are two outoffices with each house; these comprise a cow-byre for eight cows, with separate feeding passage, and a separate outoffice consisting of a grain store, horse stable or tractor house, and a calf shed.
The amount of the advance appears to be rather small—£100?—It does. That is the standard advance we are accustomed to charge on buildings and we did not enlarge it in these cases because they are prototype houses. As they are mainly electric houses there are fairly heavy outgoings on the new allottees. As well as heavier county rates than they have been accustomed to pay on their vacated holdings there will be a higher level of annuity and also recurring Electricity Supply Board charges. For those reasons we have to help them along.
180. Deputy Jones.—On subhead I.— Improvement of Estates, etc.—how many estates would this apply to?—I have not the precise number of estates but I do know the area of land that was allotted in the year; it was 39,600 acres distributed amongst 2,250 allottees.
Chairman. — What is the average acreage now allotted?—The standard holding, at present, consists of 33 acres of good land or its equivalent in land of mixed quality. It might go up to 40 acres but the overall average, in terms of the total allotment in a particular year, would not reach anything like 40 acres for the simple reason that even some bog plots of one acre would be included in the statistics. The average allotment for the year was about 18 acres, taking big and small together.
When you establish new holdings is 33 acres the aim?—Yes, 33 acres of really good class land; generally it would work out at about 40 acres of mixed land.
181. Is that considered adequate in present economic conditions? — I should say so. It is as good, if not better, than that prevailing in many of the Continental countries. The Land Commission, in its time, started off with a standard allotment of about 20 acres, in other words, five holdings to the 100 acres. Then we reduced it to four holdings to the 100 acres, and later to three holdings to the 100 acres, which gives the current figure of about 33 acres.
Deputy O’Toole.—It is a more economic holding?—In other countries, which we are often urged to imitate, say, Denmark, the holding which sets the standard is about 25 acres.
Chairman.—I suppose there would be a higher proportion of family labour in Denmark than here?—No. There is probably a shade of difference but only in terms of decimal points.
Deputy Jones.—Having regard to the productive capacity of Irish land, would Mr. O’Brien consider 33 to 35 acres an economic unit?—Yes. Intensively cultivated it certainly should be an economic unit. We have all read recently, in the newspapers, of a smallholder in Limerick whose gross production reached the figure of £140 an acre on an eleven acre holding. There is a migrant from Mayo, who, only a year and a half ago, came to a 38-acre holding in County Dublin and this year he has won the Merville Trophy for milk production.
Deputy Jones.—In regard to the holding in Limerick I think it was pig production solely that brought the production figure up. I do not think the holder concerned regards himself as being in a happy position, with his eleven acres, to provide for a family.
Chairman.—We are digressing a bit.
182. Deputy Moloney. — Could Mr. O’Brien throw some light on the type of activity engaged in by this allottee? If he engages in dairy farming or if he engages in tillage, how does it affect the 33 acres?
Chairman.—Is it left to the allottee himself to decide the type of farming?— Yes. We invariably give to the new migrant the name of the Chief Agricultural Officer for the area and ask the migrant to get in direct contact with him.
183. Deputy Moloney.—On subhead N. —Advances to provide Funds for the Maintenance of Embankments or other Works — what type of embankments qualify for maintenance under this heading?—They are invariably the smaller type of works; it would probably be more appropriate to call them watercourses. Tenants who are prepared to look after these watercourses themselves but who have not the necessary cash immediately available apply to the Land Commission for an advance; the Land Commission will make them that advance but they will not hand them the cash. Instead, they will hand the cash to the Public Trustee who will invest it. The proceeds of the investment are used for the annual maintenance and repair of these small watercourses and generally the local tenants concerned appoint a small group of trustees to look after the matter. Some of the big embankments are dealt with by the Land Commission; our expenditure on embankments, in that year, was £16,000. Most of the larger embankments will later be dealt with by the Office of Public Works when they are incorporated in the main arterial drainage schemes. Some of the principal embankments have already been included in arterial drainage schemes.
184. Deputy Jones.—On subhead R.— Purchase of Interests for Cash (Sections 27 and 28 of the Land Act, 1950)—could Mr. O’Brien tell us how many interests were purchased for cash, the acreage involved and where they were purchased?— The total number of interests purchased for cash in that year was 13. The area was 1,032 acres, at a price of £49,130, of which £40,502 was paid in that financial year. Our total purchases under those sections of the Act, since it was introduced in 1950, amount to 70, comprising 3,359 acres at a total price of £119,000. Practically all purchases were made by private treaty. These are entirely distinct from the vast bulk of land bought by the Land Commission for Land Bonds.
185. Chairman. — What particular land is purchased for cash?—To qualify for purchase for cash the land must be required either for migration or for rearrangement of inter-mixed holdings. We cannot purchase for cash a holding required for the relief of other forms of congestion. The belief is that if this procedure were generally used it might be unfair as it could upset the established system of sale by auction. If the Land Commission were to bid generally at auctions the local people might well be tempted not to bid at all in the hope that they would get the land from the Land Commission at a lower price. Therefore, the procedure is confined, by statute, to the particular purposes of migration and rearrangement.
Mr. T. O’Brien further examined.
186. Chairman. — On subhead D.— Grants for Afforestation Purposes — has there been much increase in private planting as a result of the increased grants?— Yes. Under the old grants the average level of private planting scarcely ever exceeded 500 acres in any year. For the first time, in 1959-60, after the grants were raised, the level has come to 1,300 acres.
187. On subhead H.—Appropriations in Aid—how are the sales carried out? Is it by tender?—The large sales are effected by means of tender sought by advertisement in the public press and small lots are sold locally by auction. In addition, there are local sales of firewood, etc., at fixed prices.
Deputy O’Toole.—Are fencing poles sold by tender?—Only bulk lots are sold by tender. Generally we do not have large sales of fencing posts, except, say, to the Department of Defence or the Land Commission.
Mr. T. O’Brien further examined.
188. Chairman.—Paragraphs 35 to 39 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General read:—
“Subhead E.6.—Provision of Exploratory Fishing Vessel
35. Expenditure of £59,988, including £6,000 paid in 1958-59, was incurred on the provision and equipment of an exploratory fishing vessel which was delivered in March 1960. It is understood that the vessel is operated on behalf of the Minister by An Bórd Iascaigh Mhara which is reimbursed its outlay from the vote.
Subhead F.5.—Compensation, etc.
36. There were no payments of compensation during the year. Interest amounting to £1,421 and a contribution of £110 towards the cost of proving title to compensation were paid under the provisions of section 3 of the Fresh Water Fisheries (Prohibition of Netting) Act, 1951.
37. Section 2 of the 1951 Act authorises the payment of ex-gratia grants in certain circumstances to persons not entitled to compensation under the Fisheries Act, 1939, the aggregate of such grants not to exceed £60,000. Including a payment in the year of £120 the total of the ex-gratia grants amounted to £35,830 at 31 March 1960.
Subhead F.8—Pond Fish Culture
38. In order to encourage landowners to undertake small scale fish farming for the production of rainbow trout for table use, expenditure of £1,074 was incurred on the construction and equipment of two demonstration units on privately owned lands. Agreements made with the owners of the lands provided that they would repay a proportion of the capital outlay.
Salmon Conservancy Fund
39. The income of the Fund is derived from levies on exports of salmon, from excess duty on salmon rod licences, and from contributions from the vote. Payments are made from the Fund to Boards of Conservators of such sums as the Minister may think fit to supplement their incomes and towards expenses incurred in connection with any scheme for the improvement of inland fisheries. An account of the receipts and payments is appended to the appropriation account.”
Has the exploratory work started?—It has. I have a list of some of the works done to date. Operations, so far, have been confined to the east and south coasts and information has been collected under the following heads: (1) size distribution, sex ratios, moulting and breeding of prawns; (2) mesh selection data for prawns; (3) exploratory fishing for prawns off the south coast; (4) experiments designed to ascertain at what hours of the day and night best catches of prawns can be made—I should say that it has been established that the best catches may be made immediately before sunrise and sunset; (5) experimental fishing for whiting for the purpose of determining size distribution and biological data; (6) temperature and salinity recordings for various areas; (7) herring exploratory work off Kinsale on the south coast and off Dunmore East on the south-east coast.
189. Have any other demonstration units been established under subhead F.8. —Pond Fish Culture?—We have established two such units, one in the Glen of Aherlow and another near Enniscorthy. It has not been easy to find proper sites with water of the correct phosphate content.
Deputy Sheldon.—Surely the phosphate content would be easy enough to change? —I am not sure whether “phosphate content” is the correct expression but the water has to have particular freedoms from pollution, to accord with very sensitive findings, and be in constant supply.
Is this the total cost of the two? Does it take about £500 for each one?—The Glen of Aherlow unit cost about £564 and the Enniscorthy one cost about £218.
Are they of commercial size?—They are commercial, but of small size.
190. Deputy Moloney.— On subhead E.7.—Training Scheme for Fishermen— there is an obvious explanation, I am sure, but I wonder could Mr. O’Brien tell us if the same position is likely to continue in future?
Chairman.—Is there still a shortage of applicants?—Actually we are running two schemes. One is for training experienced men as skippers and the response of fishermen has been quite disappointing. Seven completed the course in 1958-59 and six in 1959-60; those 13 have qualified for certificates of competency under the Merchant Shipping Acts. Two fishermen, at present, are undergoing practical training. There is a separate scheme for training boys as fishermen. We find the results under that scheme are more encouraging; it has met with a good response. At the moment, 17 boys are undergoing training on selected fishing boats. We advertised recently for more and I think we got about 35 applicants who are being interviewed this month.
191. What projects were deferred under subhead G.—Grant-in-Aid of Administration and Development of An Bórd Iascaigh Mhara?—I am not certain of that, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman.—It does not matter.
Deputy Moloney.—Could we get a note on that matter?
Chairman.—Perhaps you will send us a note on the ones which were deferred? —This is a Grant-in-Aid and I am not responsible for the details. The audited accounts of the Board are presented to the Dáil. I am aware that the total amount spent was £136,347; of that, £43,250 was for administration and £93,097 for development works. The main item, on the development side, was for boats and gear at £40,000, being mainly grants of 15 per cent. for new boats. There is a note in the Estimates volume which reads: “Expenditure out of the Grant-in-Aid will not be accounted for in detail to the Comptroller and Auditor General.” The deferred works would possibly be ice plants and other projects which the Board decided to defer as they are free to do.
The witness withdrew.
VOTE 50—INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE.
Mr. J. C. B. MacCarthy called and examined.
192. Chairman.—Paragraph 69 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:—
“Subhead K.—Fuel Subsidy.
69. Fuel Importers (Eire) Limited went into voluntary liquidation on 20 May 1959. All coal stocks have been disposed of, and I am informed that the liquidation proceedings are expected to be completed shortly. The sum of £158,953 was paid to the company towards its final losses.”
Have the liquidation proceedings been completed?—Yes, they are all completed now.
Deputy Jones.—Could we get the figures of what was the complete loss on the part of Fuel Importers (Eire) Limited?—It was something of the order of £11,000,000. I can give the exact figure. On the 27th July, 1960, which was the date on which the liquidation was completed, the total losses were £11,287,799. 18s. 4d.
Chairman.—That was for work done during and after the emergency?—It goes right back to 1942. The first period was to the 31st December, 1942.
What happened to the staff of Fuel Importers Limited? Was provision made for pensions?—I do not think there were any pension provisions. I gather the Board of the Company paid gratuities.
193. Chairman.—Paragraph 70 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:—
“Industrial Development Authority Subhead O.4.—Industrial Development (Grant-in-Aid)
An Foras Tionscal
Subhead Q.1.—An Foras Tionscal (Grant-in-Aid)
Subhead Q.4.—Industrial Development (Grant-in-Aid)
70. The Undeveloped Areas Acts, 1952 and 1957, authorise the Board of An Foras Tionscal to undertake certain functions in relation to industrial development in the undeveloped areas as defined in the Acts. Section 12 of the 1952 Act empowers the Minister for Industry and Commerce to make grants to the Board to enable it to perform its functions. Section 3 of the Industrial Grants Act, 1956, provided for the payment of grants by the Minister to the Industrial Development Authority to enable the Authority to make grants in aid of industrial development in areas outside the undeveloped areas. The Industrial Grants Act, 1959, which came into operation on 26 August 1959 repealed the latter Act and extended the functions of An Foras Tionscal by authorising the Board to aid industrial development outside the undeveloped areas by grants and guarantees. Section 6 of the 1959 Act provides that the aggregate amount of grants under section 12 of the 1952 Act and section 3 of the 1956 Act shall not exceed ten million pounds. Grants issued under these sections to 31 March 1960 were as follows:—
With regard to the transfer of certain functions of the Industrial Development Authority to An Foras Tionscal, what were the immediate considerations involved?—There was amending legislation for that purpose, of course. Generally, I would say the point was that the payment of grants was a type of function rather alien to the Industrial Development Authority. The organisation dealing with grants has to be rather sticky and more finicky in dealing with people than the Industrial Development Authority. The function of the Industrial Development Authority would be rather to give a glad hand. They felt embarrassed in having to perform the two separate exercises.
194. Deputy Jones.—I wonder could Mr. MacCarthy give us any information in regard to the number of areas, outside the undeveloped areas, which secured grants?—I could give certain information on that. There are, of course, annual reports which give the total number. As pointed out by the Comptroller and Auditor General, in respect of the undeveloped areas, prior to 1959-60, the expenditure was £1,121,200 and, after that, that is in 1959-60, £730,000, which made a total of £1,851,200. The number of cases covered during the period could be got from the annual reports. I have with me the annual reports of the Industrial Development Authority, so far. I take it the Deputy’s question refers to grants outside the undeveloped areas?
Yes?—There are two annual reports, one to 31st March, 1958, and one to 31st March, 1959, which give particulars of the individual grants but do not give, and I have not got, particulars of the approvals. In other words, I could tell the Deputy what was paid, but that would be rather misleading, because it could well be that there are schemes in process of being carried out which would not be shown. The annual report for 1959 shows that grants were paid in respect of Kingswear, Limited, Naas, Co. Kildare, for industrial protective clothing, Ardmore Studios, Bray, Co. Wicklow, Provincial Crop Driers, Kells, Co. Meath, a grassmeal project, Industrial Yarns, Limited, Bray, nylon throwing and tyre cord fabrics, Unidare Limited, Finglas, and Rainbow Plastics, Limited, Dun Laoghaire. Those are the grants made to the 31st March, 1959. So far as the current year is concerned, all we can give is the total figure, which will not be very helpful, because we have not yet got the details. The total payments to March 31st, 1960, were £1,851,200 and that, in fact, is the figure mentioned by the Comptroller and Auditor General.
195. Chairman.—Paragraph 71 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General is as follows:—
“Subhead P.3.—Córas Tráchtála (Grant-in-Aid)
Subhead P.4.—Promotion of Whiskey Exports (Grant-in-Aid)
71. The Export Promotion Act, 1959, provides for the winding-up of Córas Tráchtála, Teoranta, and for the establishment in its stead of a board to be known as Córas Tráchtála, to promote, assist and develop exports and to advise the Minister for Industry and Commerce on matters connected with the development of exports. The Board was established on 1 September 1959. Section 16 of the Act empowers the Minister to make grants to the Board not exceeding one million pounds in the aggregate. Grants paid during the year amounted to £97,000.”
Is it appropriate for you to give the Committee any idea of how the Grant-in-Aid in subhead P.2. is spent or have you any information about it?—I can give you a pretty general idea about that, certainly. It is based broadly on the principle that for every £1 which the Whiskey Distillers’ Association put up the State, through Córas Tráchtála and this Grant-in-Aid, provides another £1. It is spent really on publicity exercises, not alone advertising, but also financing competitions between bars and the like in window dressing and displays of that kind. As to the coming year there has been no decision yet on what is to be done.
Were you satisfied with the results achieved?—The results were thought to be rather good. In fact, the question at the moment is whether the scheme ought to be applied to exports of gin. There are now several gin producers.
196. Chairman.—Paragraph 72 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General is as follows:—
“Subhead W.W.— Purchase of Shares
72. In March, 1958, the Government approved in principle major development plans submitted by Irish Steel Holdings, Limited, which on investigation were estimated to cost £3½ millions. It was decided that this project should be wholly financed by share capital to be subscribed by the Minister for Finance. Legislation to give effect to this decision is, I understand, in course of preparation but as the company had entered into certain approved commitments in the year under review, provision was made by supplementary estimate to enable payments amounting to £300,000 to be made for shares allotted to the Minister for Finance.”
Can you say if the possibility of attracting outside capital was explored or considered?—I think it was, in very great detail, and over quite a few years. There were negotiations with interests in Germany, the Benelux countries and also with some American and Canadian interests but nothing really matured as a result.
197. Chairman.—Paragraph 73 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General is as follows:—
“Subhead X.—Appropriations in Aid
73. The amounts allocated and the recoupments from the American Grant Counterpart Special Account of expenditure incurred up to 31 March 1960 on agreed projects sponsored by the Department of Industry and Commerce are shown in the following statement:—
Was there any increase in the allocation from the Grant Counterpart Fund?— At a certain stage there was only a very small sum left in the Fund and the Government allocated that sum between several Departments. We got our share. The Department of Agriculture got a share and there were some other small provisions but there is no means of an increase in it.
198. Has the provision of additional laboratories and equipment been completed yet?—No. That is still in process. As you will see from the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report, in paragraph 73, we did, in fact, get some recoupments there but the thing is still proceeding and there is provision in the 1960-61 Estimate for it.
199. Deputy Jones.—With regard to subhead H., may I ask Mr. MacCarthy what are the two organisations to which contributions matured earlier than anticipated?—The two organisations which were responsible for most of the £838 were the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation—£778 was the amount there—and the International Sugar Council. The figure there was £336, but we had an offset of £250 by a reduction in the amount of our subscription to the International Wheat Council. We have a large number of these international organisations—eight of them altogether.
200. Chairman.—In regard to subhead O.1.—Industrial Development Authority, Remuneration and Expenses (Grant-in-Aid)—is there any reason for the expenditure being less than originally anticipated?—Subhead O.1. is Remuneration and Expenses. The reason, I think, in that case, is that they did not do quite so much personal travelling. The travelling expenses of the staff are provided for under another subhead—O.3. The personal expenses which the members incur themselves are provided for under subhead O.1. and I think that is the principal reason, added to which there was provision in the Estimate for the appointment of an additional member and, in fact, an additional member was not appointed. Mr. Duffy, who had been a member, retired, and was retained on a part-time basis up to quite recently.
201. With regard to subhead T.— Technical Assistance—what projects are at present in existence?—We have the Minerals Exploration Project which, of course, is partly financed out of the Grant Counterpart Fund. You will have noted that there was one receipt under that head according to the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General. There was management development, towards which there is also a contribution from the Grant Counterpart Fund and then there is technical assistance. It is under the head of technical assistance that we have the variety of activity—a scheme for the exploration of coal deposits, mainly in the Leinster coalfield but also, to some extent, in the Connacht coalfield. We have provision for the payment of a grant of one-third of the cost of engagement of industrial consultants by industrial firms. The qualifying condition there is that the scheme must be related to the increase of productivity. We do not give grants for improvement in distribution or measures that do not directly add to productivity. You will have noticed, we had rather a big saving on the subhead. That was due to the fact that we do not make payment, in a particular case, until the whole scheme is completed and there is rather a long delay in a number of cases. The sizes of the projects vary. Some of them are around the £10,000 mark which would involve us in a contribution of about £3,000. They go down to quite small figures involving us in only a couple of hundred pounds. The practice varies. Some of the consultants insist on being paid weekly. Others do not get payment until the job is finished. We do not as a rule make interim payments. There are some cases in which we do, where the firm concerned, after a certain period, feel that they would like to stop the scheme and study the recommendations for a while. We have occasionally made payments in such cases. Generally speaking, we wait until the end of the season.
202. Deputy Jones.—In regard to subhead W.—Grants for Housing—there was no expenditure in the year under review. Have any grants since been made for housing to Bord na Móna?—I gather the answer is “No.” That function has been transferred, since July, 1959, to the Department of Transport and Power, but, I understand, there are no proposals.
VOTE 51—TRANSPORT AND MARINE SERVICES.
Mr. J. C. B. MacCarthy further examined.
203. Chairman.—On this Vote, paragraph 74 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General is as follows:—
“Subhead A.2.—Redundancy Compensation.
74. Section 14 of the Transport Act, 1958, and section 17 of the Great Northern Railway Act, 1958, provide for the payment of compensation by Córas Iompair Éireann to employees, including those of the Great Northern Railway Board, whose services are dispensed with or conditions worsened under certain circumstances in the five-year period from 16 July 1958. Section 15 of the former Act authorises the payment of grants from voted moneys to the Board of Córas Iompair Éireann to meet the cost of such compensation.
The charge to the subhead comprises:—
With regard to this question of redundancy compensation is there any explanation for the fact that the compensation was considerably less than anticipated?— I think the only explanation there would be that, in fact, they did not have to get rid of so many people. As to why our estimate was so much higher, I think all we could say there is that we were making provision at a relatively early stage in the proceedings before the change-over took place and that we accepted the company’s estimates of what redundancy was likely to take place. The amended Pensions Scheme that was submitted by Córas Iompair Éireann in 1958 provided that persons entitled to redundancy compensation, who had not less than 20 years service and who were within ten years of the normal retiring age, which was 65, would have the option of having superannuation pension frozen and deferred until the person reached 65. That would have involved the Exchequer in a loss because the pensioner would become entitled to a lump sum payment equivalent to his contribution to the superannuation fund and that, in turn, would be payable as part of the redundancy compensation. There was a lot of discussion with the Department of Finance and Córas Iompair Éireann. The Department of Transport and Power now have a new revised pensions scheme, submitted by Córas Iompair Éireann, which provides for the payment of deferred pension at the age of 63 to male redundants. Then there are various provisions for females. The only explanation Córas Iompair Éireann have been able to give of the rather large excess—£179,304—in the Estimate over the actual sum required is that they had estimated to the best of their ability and could not do any more. I am afraid we cannot get behind that. I think there was a great deal of confusion at the time as to who was eligible and who was not eligible.
VOTE 52—AVIATION AND METEOROLOGICAL SERVICES.
Mr. J. C. B. MacCarthy further examined.
204. Chairman.—Paragraphs 75 to 78 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General read as follows:—
“Subhead F.—Constructional Works including Furnishing of Buildings— Shannon Airport
Subhead G.—Constructional Works including Furnishing of Buildings— Dublin Airport
Subhead H.—Constructional Works including Furnishing of Buildings— Cork Airport
75. Expenditure during the year on constructional works, including furnishing of buildings, at Shannon, Dublin and Cork Airports amounted to £753,409, £127,865 and £15,556, respectively. The total expenditure to 31 March 1960, excluding the cost of acquisition of land, amounted to £3,218,482 for Shannon Airport, £1,701,032 for Dublin Airport and £16,402 for Cork Airport.
Operation of Shannon and Dublin Airports
76. I have been furnished with statements giving particulars of the cost of operating Shannon and Dublin Airports. Shannon Airport is managed directly by the Department, and Dublin Airport is managed by Aer Rianta, Teoranta, on behalf of the Department.
The expenses and receipts under their main heads are as follows (the figures for the previous year being shown in brackets).
Subhead L.—Shannon Free Airport Development Company, Limited (Grant-in-Aid)
77. Section 8 (1) of the Shannon Free Airport Development Company Limited Act, 1959, provides for the making of grants to the company out of voted moneys to enable it to encourage or facilitate the establishment and carrying on of commercial, industrial and trading enterprises at Shannon and to meet its running expenses. Section 8 (2) of the Act limits the aggregate amount of grants which may be made to the company to £500,000. Including £140,000 charged to the subhead, the total grants issued to 31 March 1960 amounted to £190,000.
In addition to the grants from voted moneys, £393,000 was advanced from the Central Fund during the year in accordance with section 3 of the Act to enable the Minister for Finance to take up shares of the company.
Subhead T.—Appropriations in Aid
78. The surplus earned by Aer Rianta, Teoranta, on the management of Dublin Airport for the year ended 31 March 1959 was £87,115. After charging £32,776 for interest payable to British European Airways, the deficit on the company’s General Administration Account amounted to £35,929. Provision had been made in the estimate to set off this deficit against the management surplus. The balance, £51,186, was surrendered to the Department and has been brought to account as an appropriation in aid.”
205. I notice, in connection with Shannon Airport, that the deficiency appears to be growing?—That is so.
Due to the introduction of jet planes?— It must very largely be due to that but, again, as to present situation I know nothing since the transfer of functions. The explanation given to me of the outturn in this financial year was that landings were down very drastically with the result that the landing fees, as will be evident from the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report in paragraph 76, showed a very drastic reduction—over £100,000— and consequently the catering receipts were also down. However, that can only be a partial answer because, in the case of Dublin, while it is not of the same degree, the trend is also in that direction. There has been an increase in the deficiency of revenue from £213,000 to £228,000. Landing fees are up, on the other hand, and so are the catering fees slightly up. It may be that, to some extent, the Shannon figures look bad because of the high charge which is made for interest and depreciation, that is, under the head of expenses in the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report, paragraph 76. This depreciation is at a flat rate of four per cent. and it is applied to all expenditure incurred from the year dot at Shannon. To that extent, it is rather misleading because, normally, you would expect that the burden would be reducing.
206. Deputy Jones.—In regard to Shannon Airport is there any reason why the Airport Management figure has increased by £22,000 over the previous year?—I would say that would be almost entirely due to the normal incremental increases in staff salaries, to the higher cost of official transport provided for the staff from Limerick and from Ennis, the Airport Post Office, and increases in remuneration and miscellaneous expenses are also added. There was no other circumstance of which I am aware, such as any significant increase in staff. I can give you the break-down of that item if you would be interested, comparing this year with the previous year. Under the head of salaries, wages, and allowances, the increase is £7,000, £70,000 for this year and £63,000 for the previous year. There was no change in the proportion of headquarter staff salaries which is charged here. The pension liability is reduced; that of course is a purely accidental sort of thing depending on the seniority of the officers who happen to be at Shannon. Maintenance of buildings is approximately the same. The rates went up by £1,000 and the cost of lighting went up by £1,000. Telephones went up by £3,000 and the subsidies for transporting the staff by £6,000, which is the highest single increase of the lot apart from wages. The Airport Post Office cost a couple of hundred pounds more and miscellaneous odds and ends accounted for £4,000 making the total difference of £22,000.
207. Deputy Booth.—Does the increase in the subsidy for Córas Iompair Éireann transport mean that their rates went up? —It would mean their rates went up. The staff make a certain contribution and we pay the difference between that and the cost of the tickets.
208. Chairman.—On paragraph 77— Shannon Free Airport Development Company—I understand the Act gives the Company considerable freedom. Has any of the money been expended on capital works?—Yes. The Company are financed in a somewhat peculiar way. They get a Grant-in-Aid. It is a company with share capital which is subscribed by the Minister for Finance. In practice, the share capital subscribed by the Minister for Finance is used for the purpose of building factories, offices, warehouses, and so forth, which remain the property of the company and are leased to the industries which are setting up there. As regards the industries themselves, grants are made towards the cost of machinery and also for the training of workers rather on the same principle as the ordinary factories grants arrangement. These are charged to the Grant-in-Aid. The maximum Grant-in-Aid is £500,000, that is over a period, of course, of which £190,000 was provided in the current year. They operate on the basis of a grant of not more than one half of the cost of the machinery. The grant for training workers is a matter of agreement. They pay the workers’ wages for so many weeks during the course of training outside the State; they pay travelling and subsistence expenses. As regards the payments from the Grant-in-Aid—this is now the responsibility of the Department of Transport and Power—I gather, because I enquired about this, that we are now very near the limit of £500,000 and it will be necessary to come to the Dáil, in the immediate future, for amending legislation. So far as the payments out of the Company’s capital are concerned, the total amount which was paid in the year 1959-60 was approximately £390,000 of which about £170,000 was in respect of factory construction. The balance was for furniture, fittings and site development works.
Can you say if any purely Irish firm has established a factory there?—Not so far.
209. Deputy O’Toole.—On subhead T. —Appropriations in Aid—I wish to know has anything been done about the weather instruments at Leinster House?—I am afraid I did not hear what the Deputy said.
Chairman.—Deputy O’Toole said he understood from last year’s report that some weather instruments here at Leinster House had been interfered with? —I was not aware there are, in fact, any weather instruments at Leinster House.
I gather there are?—Apparently there are instruments on Leinster Lawn but we are not aware there has been any interference. They are rather ancient things, I understand, which were installed in the days of the Royal Dublin Society.
We inherited them?—Yes.
210. I notice a sum of £32,000 for interest payable to British European Airways. What was the nature of that charge?—That is in connection with arrangements which were made some years ago for the purchase of aircraft. A sum was advanced by the British Company towards the cost of development and when the break-up occurred—a 40 per cent. holding was reduced to 10 per cent.—instead of paying back the advance immediately an arrangement was made to pay it by instalments. The interest was paid out of the Aer Rianta Management Account and then it is deducted from their earnings at Dublin Airport. It is a somewhat odd arrangement but it is made with the approval of Dáil Éireann and is shown in that way in the annual estimates.
211. Deputy Booth.—I notice there is an increase over the estimate for item 5 —Lettings of offices and stores—does that mean that the rates of lettings were increased or was there an increased number of lettings?—The annual rent is £1 per square foot. There has been no change in that but we had rather heavy arrears of rent in the previous years which we collected in this year. We also had an additional demand for accommodation.
VOTE 53—INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL PROPERTY REGISTRATION OFFICE.
Mr. J. C. B. MacCarthy called.
Mr. J. C. B. MacCarthy further examined.
212. Chairman.—On subhead B.—Resort Development (Grant-in-Aid)—I notice the grants are less than anticipated?—Yes.
Is there any explanation to that?—It is just a case of not being able to go as fast as we had hoped. A scheme was put up covering a number of areas. These were to be major resorts because in the case of minor resorts Bórd Fáilte would be expected to take care of them from the ordinary Grant-in-Aid. However, there was a little bit of haggling about what was major and what was minor. Eventually a list was agreed upon and we are proceeding on that basis.
VOTE 66—REPAYMENT OF TRADE LOANS ADVANCES.
Mr. J. C. B. MacCarthy further examined.
213. Chairman.—Paragraph 99 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:—
“99. This vote provides for the repayment to the Central Fund, in accordance with the provisions of section 10 of the Trade Loans (Guarantee) Act, 1939, of the amounts which remained outstanding after the expiration of two years from the date on which advances were made from the Fund on foot of guarantees given by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. The charge to the vote is in respect of the following undertakings:—
The amounts advanced from the Central Fund were £81,555, £20,949, £23,422 and £2,170, respectively. A grant of £22,500 was made by An Foras Tionscal to Moulded Products, Limited, under the Undeveloped Areas Act, 1952. The affairs of Sessions Marine, Limited, and West Park Estates, Limited, are, I understand, still in the hands of receivers.”
With regard to Moulded Products, Limited, can you say how long they were in operation?—I can, yes. The Company was incorporated in April, 1950. They were reorganised in 1954 with an issued capital of approximately £41,000. We did not come into the picture until 1956 when they applied for a trade loan guarantee for £55,000, of which £25,000 was to repay bank overdraft and the balance for working capital. They also got a grant from An Foras Tionscal and the Industrial Credit Corporation assisted them. The guarantee was given in 1956 and we began releasing trade loans in instalments, starting in June/July, 1956. The Company was reorganised in Autumn, 1956, and, in January, 1957, rumours of trouble began. In July, 1957, there was a prosecution, which had nothing to do with the trade loan, but one of the managers was prosecuted for fraudulent conversion of stocks. In November, 1957, we had to put in a Receiver and in June, 1958, the Receiver was authorised to dispose of the assets piecemeal. There was an auction in 1958, and in September of that year all the assets were sold except the factory premises which, I should have said, were the property of the Industrial Credit Corporation. So the Company lasted from 1950 until 1957, with the State having an interest from the beginning of 1956 when the trade loan entered the picture.
A somewhat unhappy history. In a case like this would it be possible to have the liquidation handled by the Official Assignee?—I do not know. I could send you a note if you like, Mr. Chairman.*
214. Is there any indication of any further releasing of assets to offset the amounts shown here in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General?—In two cases there is not. But in the case of Sessions Marine, Limited, there may be a further small receipt and we may get £2,000 or £3,000 in the case of West Park Estates Limited. We have no great expectation of getting anything more. The amounts in these cases were; Sessions Marine, Limited, £18,449, West Park Estates, Limited, £12,758. Moulded Products, Limited, is completely finished and so is Photocraft, Limited.
The witness withdrew.
The Committee adjourned.